Transplantation of GABAergic interneurons for cell-based therapy

Prog Brain Res. 2017:231:57-85. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2016.11.005. Epub 2017 Mar 17.


Many neurological disorders stem from defects in or the loss of specific neurons. Neuron transplantation has tremendous clinical potential for central nervous system therapy as it may allow for the targeted replacement of those cells that are lost in diseases. Normally, most neurons are added during restricted periods of embryonic and fetal development. The permissive milieu of the developing brain promotes neuronal migration, neuronal differentiation, and synaptogenesis. Once this active period of neurogenesis ends, the chemical and physical environment of the brain changes dramatically. The brain parenchyma becomes highly packed with neuronal and glial processes, extracellular matrix, myelin, and synapses. The migration of grafted cells to allow them to home into target regions and become functionally integrated is a key challenge to neuronal transplantation. Interestingly, transplanted young telencephalic inhibitory interneurons are able to migrate, differentiate, and integrate widely throughout the postnatal brain. These grafted interneurons can also functionally modify local circuit activity. These features have facilitated the use of interneuron transplantation to study fundamental neurodevelopmental processes including cell migration, cell specification, and programmed neuronal cell death. Additionally, these cells provide a unique opportunity to develop interneuron-based strategies for the treatment of diseases linked to interneuron dysfunction and neurological disorders associated to circuit hyperexcitability.

Keywords: Epilepsy; Ganglionic eminence; Interneuron; Plasticity; Transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / transplantation*
  • Neurogenesis
  • Synapses